Shaker Museum receives $1,000,000 gift from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation

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Shaker Museum receives $1,000,000 gift from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation
Work counter, Mount Lebanon, NY, ca. 1845.

CHATHAM, NY.- Shaker Museum, which stewards the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives, announced today that the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has generously made a $1 million dollar gift to support the construction of the museum’s new home in Chatham, NY. Shaker Museum is in the process of renovating and building an expansive addition to a facility in Chatham, NY. The new museum home, designed by Selldorf Architects, will serve as an anchor in downtown Chatham and will break ground in 2023.

“The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation is delighted to continue its support of Shaker Museum. The museum stewards the most remarkable collection of Shaker material and has a bright future ahead of it. This grant, which literally enables the museum to put down new roots in the community, is an endorsement of their mission. This gift means the organization can continue to push ahead with its ambitious plans for the future but also provides bandwidth for serving the community today with programming. I look forward to the day when the new museum opens and welcomes all of Columbia County into the Shaker experience,“ said Jack Shear, President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.

The new facility is essential to the museum’s ability to deliver humanities programming to local, national, and international audiences, allowing it to share and preserve its unparalleled collection. The building will offer more than 27,000 square feet of space over four floors for exhibitions, events, workshops, convenings, and public use. The physical space’s design embodies and perpetuates the core ideals that were at the foundation of Shaker culture but will apply them in a modern and relevant context and form. The design and the programming envisioned for this new facility re-examines the experience and interaction of a visitor with a museum while keeping practicality and inclusivity at the forefront, ranging from the arrival experience to common space usage to exhibition accessibility.

Additionally, the museum has secured a $100,000 grant from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for general operating support for the cultural institution which is critical during this period of rapid growth.

“We are so grateful to the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation for their partnership and for their continued financial support. Their generosity helps us achieve our mission to elevate Shaker material culture to animate Shaker values and beliefs and inspire individuals and communities to deepen bonds and seek meaningful approaches to social, economic, and environmental and spiritual issues. The momentum and enthusiasm for this project is powerful and we feel so lucky to be building this institution.”

Shaker Museum and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation have a long history of collaboration. The American artist Ellsworth Kelly and his partner, photographer Jack Shear, began collecting Shaker objects in 1970, and kept them in their home in Columbia County, New York, until they were donated to Shaker Museum after Kelly’s death in 2015. Kelly admired and drew inspiration from the simplicity of the Shaker form and design. In 2018, the museum curated a show at the Jeff Bailey Gallery in Hudson, NY called Line and Curve that brought together Shaker objects from the Kelly and Shear Shaker Collection and a selection of iconic Kelly prints from the 1960s – 1980s. Line and Curve was an opportunity to observe the balance of simplicity and harmony that exists in both Kelly’s prints and Shaker works. In 2021, objects from the Shaker Museum and work by Kelly were also presented together in a show called All Together Now at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College.

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